Hispanic Emmaus group holds gathering

Bob Reddy – Florida Catholic

For about 1,000 people a recent Sunday was spent growing and better rooting their love for the Lord while also gaining a profound sense of devotion to the Blessed Sacrament.

These were some of the things learned during the 2nd Diocese of Venice Congress of Emmaus (Emaus) which took place May 19 at the Lee Civic Center in North Fort Myers. The event, which was in Spanish, was for those who have completed an Emmaus weekend retreat in the past and served as an opportunity to renew and recapture the fire that grew in them during their first retreat.

It was during that retreat during where they learned a new way to live their life, as Jesus taught in the Gospel of Luke with a particular emphasis on the story about the Road to Emmaus.

“Beautiful!” “Amazing!” “Powerful” “I felt Christ’s love!” These were just some of the reactions of people as they finished a 10-hour day. Between the speakers, the music and the community that everyone felt, the day was a huge success. Many commented on how uplifting and unifying the day was, bringing them closer to Jesus Christ is ways they did not expect.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated the closing Mass for the day and said he was very pleased to see such an enthusiastic group dedicating an entire day to growing closer to the Lord through the Blessed Sacrament.

The Bishop specifically credited the Diocesan Spiritual Directors for Hispanic Emmaus, Fathers Jiobani Batista, Luis Pacheco and Luis Albarracin, for their commitment in supporting the Emmaus retreats and for bringing everyone together for the gathering to celebrate the Lord in a special way.

Father Batista, Pastor of St. Margaret Parish in Clewiston, said the goal of the gathering was to inflame the participants with the miracle of Risen Lord as we continue our spiritual journey during this Easter Season.

“We also wanted to convey a renewed and deep devotion to the Eucharist,” Father Batista said. “After going on an Emmaus retreat, the powerful impact can fade over time. This gathering is a renewal so that everyone will carry this message and bring their excitement back to their parishes, spreading the message of the Lord to others.”

Each of the talks focused on the Eucharist. During the say, there was Eucharistic Adoration, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy and music all building upon the theme. This led everyone toward the climatic conclusion of the day, the celebration of the Eucharist during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Speakers included Father Emilio Acevedo, Father Jose Asuncion Briones Barrientos, and Sister Maria Mercedez Rodriguez-Gomez, MHML, of St. Margaret Parish. Music was provided by the Custodia de Cristo and Son del Senor del Miami. The featured music was provided by Catholic singer-songwriter Jon Carlo.

The Emmaus retreat program is a Diocesan-approved retreat weekend that takes place three times a year in both English and Spanish. It’s open to all men and women ages 20 or older seeking to grow in their relationship with Christ regardless of their present level of faith and practice. The purpose of the weekend is to give adults the opportunity to reflect upon themselves, their relationship with God and their community.

The next full gathering of Emmaus retreatants will be April 25, 2020 at the Lee Civic Center. To learn more about Emmaus retreats across the Diocese, contact your local parish or email emaus@dioceseofvenice.org or emmaus@dioceseofvenice.org.

Parish welcomes visiting religious priests

Bob Reddy – Florida Catholic

A driving rain storm did little to quell the enthusiasm of the faithful at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Immokalee when they welcomed more than 40 Missionaries of St. Charles (Scalabrinians) who were visiting the parish for the Mass as part of a week-long Provincial Assembly in Boca Raton.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane was the main celebrant for a May 9 Mass. Father Mario Germia, CS, General Councilor of the Order, and Provincial Superior Father Maocir Balen, CS, Parish Pastor Father Carlos Reyes-Ramirez, CS, and Parochial Vicar Father Wilner Durosier, CS, as well as the other Scalabrinian priests concelebrated the Mass.

The assembly side-trip to Immokalee for the priests was planned to thank the community for their support of the religious order through the years and to see the progress on the construction of the new Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish Church which is nearing completion adjacent to the existing church.

The first Scalabrinian priests arrived at Our Lady of Guadalupe in 1985 and the community has served there ever since. Several priests who previously served at the parish were present for the celebration and were, following the Mass, individually recognized and cheered by the faithful for their service.

Bishop Dewane expressed his humble and heartfelt gratitude for the years the Missionaries of St. Charles have been in the Diocese, serving the faithful here and continuing to reach out to other missions that were founded.

“I cannot help but express a strong genuine gratefulness and thanks for your vocation, for your choosing to be a member of the Missionaries of St. Charles, and for the sacrifices that you make,” the Bishop added. “Also, for the good that you do for the people of God, and particularly here in Immokalee by building up the faith community.”

The welcome from the parishioners was overwhelming as they packed the church for the tri-lingual Mass (English, Spanish and Creole) and afterwards joyously cheered the visiting priests for their vocation and continued service to the community.

Provincial Father Balen thanked Bishop Dewane for his ongoing support of the Scalabrinian priests who continue to serve in Immokalee. He also thanked the faithful of the parish for their enthusiasm for the visit, noting that the group was expecting a quiet time for Mass and some reflection but instead they were welcomed with joyous open arms that reflect the love of Christ that permeates throughout the parish.

“Thank you to Bishop Dewane and thank you all for the love you have showed us,” Father Balen said in English and Spanish.

The Missionaries of St. Charles – Scalabrinians – are an international community of religious missionaries dedicated to the service of migrants of differing cultures and ethnicities in countries throughout the world. We are a religious apostolic community called by God to share in the mission of the church by helping migrants discover and carry out the plan of salvation during human migration and within their lives.  The Congregation was founded on Nov. 28, 1887 by Blessed John Baptist Scalabrini (1839-1905), Bishop of Piacenza, Italy.

Scalabrinians are committed to the promotion of human dignity and human rights of migrants, including their faith and cultural values.  They are also committed to promote the total salvation of mankind, leading migrants in particular, to a rediscovery of faith in their lives with a longing for dignity and justice.

The Scalabrinian Fathers of the Province of St. Charles Borromeo Provincial Assembly gathered priests who serve in the eastern U.S., eastern Canada, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela.

Following the Mass, a fiesta was held and in spite of the rain, everyone persevered and enjoyed themselves as the food was served under the awning of the new church and all sat at tables under tents set up in the parking lot.

Bishop Dewane noted during the Mass that the new building, which has been under construction for more than two years, will soon be opened and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass will be offered. “Your patience has been appreciated and you will be rewarded with another celebration very soon.”

News briefs from Around the Diocese March 15 2019

Bishop serves as Grand Marshal to Marco St. Patrick’s Parade

Bishop Frank J. Dewane served as the Grand Marshal for the 2019 Marco Island St. Patrick’s Day Parade on March 3. The parade included a variety of floats and various musical performers including the St. John Neuman Catholic High School Band from Naples.

Parish celebrates 20 years

Our Lady of the Angels Parish Lakewood Ranch celebrated their 20th anniversary with a Mass and party on Feb. 24. Bishop Frank J. Dewane was the principal celebrant for the Mass with current, past and neighboring priests concelebrating. It was noted that the faith community, which has been in a new parish church for about a year, has grown thanks to the efforts of the priests and of the strong support of the people who make Our Lady of the Angels what it is today.

Order of Malta retreat brings in Archbishop

Archbishop Jerome Listecki, of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, was the retreat master for an Order of Malta retreat in Naples from March 1-3. Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated a Mass for the knights and dames of the order on March 1 at St. Ann Parish and was joined by Archbishop Listecki.

St. Andrew student saves father, receives “Do The Right Thing Award”

Kendall Sullivan, a seventh grader at St. Andrew Catholic School in Cape Coral, was recently honored at the Cape Coral “Do The Right Thing” Awards. She was recognized for her fast thinking and calm demeanor in a very stressful situation when her father had a medical emergency while driving here and a her younger sister to school. After a minor traffic accident, the quick-thinking student was able to remove the keys from the ignition and turn off the car. She then explain to bystanders and emergency medical personnel about her father’s medical history which was credited with helping him make a full recovery. She was presented the ‘Do the Right Thing Award” for being able to prevent injury to her family and others on the road all while putting her fear aside.

Two Diocesan teams going to state Odyssey of the Mind competition

The St. Joseph Catholic School in Bradenton and St. Andrew Catholic School in Cape Coral both qualified teams for the state Odyssey of the Mind competition at the University of Central Florida in April! The teams did well in regional qualifiers on March 2 competing against more than 100 schools from across the area. Odyssey of the Mind is a creative problem-solving program where teams work together to solve complex problems.

Parish holds annual Gala

St. Jude Parish in Sarasota held their annual Gala Feb. 15 at Michael’s on East. The theme of the evening was “One World, One Family,” and in addition to fine dining, there was dancing, photo booth, raffles and live auction, including for Father Celestin Gutierrez’s famous paella dinner.

Epiphany Cathedral students participate in Kids Heart Challenge

Students at Epiphany Cathedral School know that February celebrates St. Valentine and is American Heart Month by participating in the Kids Heart Challenge which educates them on how their heart works, ways to stay healthy and how to make a difference in the lives of others. American Heart Association Youth Marketing Director, Emily Helter visited the Venice to the school on Valentine’s Day to speak with the 2nd & 3rd grade class about the fundraiser and ways to stay heart healthy.  This year the student’s goal is to raise $5,000 with the school raising $8,000 in the past two years. The Kid’s Heart Challenge fundraiser culminated with a school-wide event with jumping rope, hula hooping, dance and many fun activities designed to illustrate that being active is both fun and life-saving.

Guadalupe Social Services holds open house

Staff Report – Florida Catholic

12/19/2018

As part of the year-long celebration of Catholic Charities Diocese of Venice Inc. providing services in Collier County for 50 years, Guadalupe Social Services of Catholic Charities in Immokalee held a Dec. 8 open house for supporters of the program.

Attendees enjoyed food, drink and fellowship along with a video presentation and informative tours of the services available at Guadalupe Social Services, which has been in operation for 38 years. During 2018, Catholic Charities has been proud to mark 50 years of changing lives in Collier County. Hospitality for the open house was graciously provided by The Warehouse and the Seminole Hotel Casino Immokalee.

With the aid of many supporters offering time, talent and treasure, Guadalupe Social Services is able to provide assistance to people in need in Immokalee.

Visitors are greeted Dec. 8 to the Guadalupe Social Services of Catholic Charities Open House in Immokalee.

Immokalee has long been a region of poor migrant workers. Half of the population lives at or below the poverty level. Over the years, more families have chosen to make Immokalee their permanent home and work in low-income jobs including: landscaping; hospitality; restaurants; farms; and packing houses. There is an extreme culture of poverty that exists in the town of Immokalee as 44.8 percent of the population lives below the poverty line.

Guadalupe Social Services aims to alleviate the suffering in Immokalee with compassion, integrity, and empathy. By empowering the people through assistance provided to them, the main goals are to ensure human dignity and enhance the quality of life for all individuals served. Guadalupe Social Services focuses on offering the basic needs of food, shelter, clothing and household items, in addition to stability and education.

The staff of Guadalupe Social Services of Catholic Charities during a Dec. 8 Open House in Immokalee.

The program offers a number of vital services including: free hot lunches five days a week at the Casa Maria Soup Kitchen; a clothing room and showers; a food pantry; direct assistance with rent and utilities; immigration services; English as a second language classes; and a crib and stroller program.

Volunteers are the backbone of Guadalupe Social Services and allow the program the ability to provide these vital services to the needy in the community. Additional volunteers are needed for the food pantry, soup kitchen, and help in the office.

If you would like to directly support the program nonperishable food, clothing and household goods are always needed at Guadalupe Social Services. Seasonal donations are necessary for back-to-school items, and Thanksgiving and Christmas food distributions.

For more information about volunteer opportunities and donations, please call 239-657-6242, visit www.catholiccharitiesdov.org or send donations to Guadalupe Social Services of Catholic Charities, 211 S. 9th St., Immokalee, FL 34142.

Christmas Appeal seeks needed funds

Bob Reddy – Florida Catholic

12/4/2018

Catholic Charities Diocese of Venice, Inc., is best known as a highly rated social service agency that assists thousands of people in the community each year. But Catholic Charities Diocese of Venice is so much more. Behind the many statistics are the real people who are helped each year.

“The voices of our clients tell the most genuine story of how your gift to the annual Catholic Charities Christmas Appeal helped them bring about real change in their lives.” Catholic Charities CEO Philomena Pereira said in a letter for the 2018 Christmas Appeal. “Catholic Charities works with individuals and families, who face the challenges of poverty and instability, to reach the goal of self-sufficiency.”

The Christmas Appeal is the largest fundraiser for Catholic Charities and is vital for operating the social service organization. Each donation will help real individuals and families who are assisted through any one of the 37 different programs available in more than 30 locations throughout the Diocese. The Appeal goal is $565,000.

Jose, a client at the Judy Sullivan Family Resource Center of Catholic Charities in Naples, is very grateful to the program. During a recent visit he was greeted by a wonderful case worker with the most compassionate smile.

“I started crying when she asked me if I was okay and I saw that her eyes also got watery,” Jose said. “I felt that I was in the right place to get help. I told her that I was homeless and had recently lost my job, car, and home. As she helped me with things to eat from the food pantry, she asked me questions about my situation and looked for other ways to help. The emotional support I received… I have not received in a long time. From a slice of pizza for lunch, to restaurant coupons, a week stay at a hotel, and a bicycle, I do not have the words to describe the generosity, love and care that Catholic Charities gave to me. Thank you so much.”

Your gift to the Christmas Appeal answers the prayers of clients. Caring for those who are less fortunate not only requires the necessities of food, clothing and shelter but an array of professional programs and services to meet all their needs. Contributions of any amount are welcome and will help provide beneficial opportunities for deserving individuals and families. Each year, Catholic Charities provides assistance to more than 42,000 individuals and families.

“Please remember that every number represents a child, family or individual who relied on the support of Catholic Charities to get through a crisis,” Bishop Frank J. Dewane said. “Your gift to this year’s Christmas Appeal will allow Catholic Charities to continue the important work of helping the most vulnerable in our community. It is to all the people who have helped sustain Catholic Charities, which works to serve those in need, that I am deeply grateful.”

Sue is a client of Our Mother’s House of Catholic Charities in Venice which provides a transitional housing program for mothers with young children. Sue noted that Our Mother’s House has been the greatest gift that a single mother could ask for.

“This place is truly a blessing from God,” Sue continued. “Not only did they give me and my baby a place to live, but they provided the education I needed to become independent. Words cannot express the gratitude that I have for the opportunity to grow as a woman and as a mother. The parenting classes have given me the skills to be a better mom to my son. The financial classes have given me the skills that I need to budget and sustain goals. This has been one of the best experiences in my life. I do not know where we would be without this program. God put this program in our path at the best time. The staff was very supportive and motivated me in all the right ways to fight for a successful life.”

Catholic Charities is often the voice for those who have no voice, Pereira said. We continue to be good stewards of your contributions, with sound fiscal management and a commitment to accountability and transparency. We always put the needs of our clients first.

Catholic Charities has received the top four-star rating 16 times from Charity Navigator. In addition, a total of 93 cents of every dollar donated to Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc. goes directly to services for people in need. Catholic Charities serves and empowers ALL regardless of race, nationality or creed.

You can contribute by visiting www.catholiccharitiesdov.org. You can send a donation in memory of a loved one or in honor of a family member or friend. We will send a Christmas card telling the special person of your generous gift. Donations by mail can be sent to Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc., 5824 Bee Ridge Road, PMB #409, Sarasota, FL 34233-5065. For more information, please call 941-488-5581.

News from Around the Diocese November 2018

Wrap-up of news from Across the Diocese in November

Wauchula Children’s Festival a big success

More than 200 children participated in a Children’s Festival at St. Michael Parish in Wauchula. Geared toward children aged 3 to 10, there were a number of fun activities and games as well as Mass and prayers.

 

 

 

Successful Vocations Awareness Weekend

The Diocese Vocations Office brought a group of young men to participate in the Nov. 9-11 Vocations Awareness Weekend at St. John Vianney College Seminary in Miami. Led by Vocations Director Father Eric Scanlan, several attended this engaging and prayerful discernment event.

 

 

 

 

Retreat inspires catechists

A Diocesan Catechist Retreat themed: “Root of God’s Healing” took place Nov. 17 at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish. About 100 catechists participated in the retreat which focused on reenergizing them as they approach the Advent and Christmas seasons. They were reminded that Jesus serves to free and restore them as they work to be the light and witness of the Lord for others.

 

 

 

VDCCW Latina Convocation held

The first ever Venice Diocesan Council of Catholic Women Latina Convocation took place Nov. 17 at Sacred Heart Parish in Bradenton. About 50 women took part in the gathering which served to educate about the role of the CCW and to inspire them to become more involved in their faith. Iris Gomez, VDCCW Past-President, organized the gathering and Father Juan Carlos Sack, Administrator at Sacred Heart Parish, provide inspirational talks.

 

 

Cities for Life gathering held

Praying for the end to the death penalty, a Cities for Life gathering was held Nov. 30 at St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Port Charlotte. Cities for Life is a worldwide annual event that was begun in 2002 by the community of Saint’ Egidio in Rome where the Coliseum was lit up during the night. November 30th was chosen because it is the anniversary of the first civil state in the world to do away with the death penalty in Tuscany, Italy in 1786- 229 years ago. About 2,000 cities and 80 countries will call for the end of the use of the death penalty by lighting civic or religious buildings around the world, along with prayer services and educational programs. This was the fourth time the Dioceses of Florida participated in the prayer vigil. Participants in the Port Charlotte gathering saw a video presentation of a talk on the death penalty from the September 2018 Florida Respect Life Conference in Punta Gorda.

 

Sarasota Charity Ball Jan. 26 at The Westin

The Catholic Charities Ball will be held on Jan. 26,  at 6 p.m. at The Westin in Sarasota. All proceeds will benefit the programs and services of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc. in Sarasota and Manatee counties which include Our Mother’s House, St. Martha’s Early Learning Center, Bethesda House, Catholic Charities Family Haven, housing counseling and foreclosure prevention, financial assistance, senior services, professional counseling, refugee services, and immigration services. The evening will include a cocktail hour, auctions, dinner, and dancing. Tickets are $300 a person. For information and tickets visit www.catholiccharitiesdov.org or call 941-355-4680, ext. 301 or email nmuth@ccdis1.org.

Bishop reads to support Literacy Campaign

Bob Reddy – Florida Catholic

7/13/2018

To the delight of young boys and girls, Bishop Frank J. Dewane read a book to children at Casa San Juan Bosco farmworker housing community of Catholic Charities Diocese of Venice Inc. in Arcadia.

The 39 children, from kindergarten through 4th grade, were participating in a summer afternoon reading program that was part of the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading and made possible through the support of The Patterson Foundation with partnerships with The Community Foundation of Sarasota and the United Way Suncoast.

Bishop Dewane read “The Giving Tree,” a children’s picture book by Shel Silverstein. The book follows the lives of a female apple tree and a boy, who develop a relationship with one another. The tree is very “giving” and the boy evolves into a “taking” teenager, man, then elderly man. While the boy ages in the story, the tree addresses the boy as “Boy” his entire life.

While reading the book, the Bishop made sure each of the children, who were seated attentively on the floor, could see the illustrations and pointing out some of the important details. Afterwards, the Bishop queried the inquisitive children about what lessons they learned.

Based on the questions posed by Bishop Dewane and the responses he received, the children understood the positive messages from the book about giving and having a caring relationship with nature and those around them.

The summer reading program at Casa San Juan Bosco is three afternoons a week in June and July, and is part of a larger program which includes the arts and other educational activities. Throughout the summer the children were encouraged to read as many books as they could. The older children and volunteers would also read to the others in smaller groups. Throughout the summer, the children keep track of all the books they read and then write a short synopsis on each book to get credit.

By late June, Janet Seguera had read 10 books, which were marked in shiny stars on the Summer Reading Challenge board. “I love to read and sometimes read to my younger sisters. By reading, I learn so much about wonderful places and people. It’s fun.”

The Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading is part of a national campaign which unites community partners across the nation to make reading proficiently by the end of third grade a priority. This is to address the fact that two-thirds of children in 4th grade cannot read at grade-level. While it is understood that parents and good preschool teachers teach reading from birth through 3rd Grade, in fourth grade students must use their reading skills to learn, and teachers no longer teach students how to read.

Locally, the communitywide effort includes Manatee and Sarasota counties as well as the Catholic Charities program in Arcadia. The effort focuses on helping all children, especially those from low-income families, succeed in school and life by ensuring they read on grade level by the end of third grade.

Bishop Dewane said he was delighted to be a part of this outreach and thanked representatives of the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-level Reading for recognizing the Catholic Charities program as worthy of their outreach as well as the Patterson Foundation which also supported helped with the program.

“It was an honor to read for the children and a privilege to be here to support this reading program for these young boys and girls in Arcadia,” Bishop Dewane said. “Reading is an important foundation of learning that can be carried forward throughout one’s life. Catholic Charities and the Diocese both look forward to working with these partners in the future to help promote literacy which is so important in the life of all students.”

Summertime and the Giving is Easy 2018

Annual Campaign to support Catholic Charities

Staff Report

7/13/2018

Every day vulnerable people living throughout Southwest Florida go to their local Catholic Charities Diocese of Venice Inc. office seeking relief. This assistance can come in the form of nourishment, education, shelter, or in the support of at-risk children, isolated elderly, struggling families and homeless individuals.

For this reason, Catholic Charities Diocese of Venice Inc. offers the opportunity for supporters to give directly to the causes which empower those in need through the “Summertime and the Giving is Easy” Campaign. The theme for the 2018 Campaign is “EmPOWer your neighbors in need with strength. Be a SuperHero and Give!”

A file photo of a familily at Casa San Juan Bosco farm worker housing of Catholic Charities Diocese of Venice Inc. in Arcadia.

Giving to the “Summertime and the Giving is Easy” Campaign builds up the people of Southwest Florida with the courage and hope to move beyond poverty and achieve self-sufficiency. By supporting this Campaign generously, for example, you can help lift a child out of poverty, give nourishment to a senior, put a roof overhead for a homeless family, supply a home for a veteran, or offer stability to a victim of human trafficking.

Each year, Catholic Charities serves more than 40,000 families and individuals regardless of race, nationality or creed with more than 30 specialized programs that are focused on improving lives. A total of 92 cents of each dollar donated to Catholic Charities goes directly to programs and services. Charity Navigator, a leading evaluator of non-profits, consistently rates Catholic Charities Diocese of Venice Inc. among its top-rated organizations, giving its highest rating for sound fiscal management a total of 15 times over the past 17 years. The “Summertime and the Giving is Easy” is a chance to brighten the future for your neighbors who come to Catholic Charities for help. Any gift amount is greatly appreciated!

Support with stability.

Volunteers at the Judy Sullivan Family Resource Center of Catholic Charities assist clients as they go through the “Choice Food Pantry” in Naples in late June.

The Human Trafficking Victim Assistance Program guides victims to attain a healthy life.

Catholic Charities administers Professional Counseling Services that keep families together and offer relief. Frail and isolated elders come to the Senior Support Coordination Program to live independently. A victim of labor trafficking recently expressed his gratitude from the work of Catholic Charities to create a stable and safe living environment for his family. “I have not the right words for all who have helped us, but I am so thankful.”

Sheltering the homeless.

The North Port Family Haven provides emergency housing and long-term case management for homeless families. At Our Mother’s House in Venice, desperate mothers and their children have a safe place to live where they can work toward self-sufficiency. One mother recently completed the extensive education program, leaving with a stable job and housing for her and her child and a very bright future. “Our Mother’s House changed my life. I was essentially homeless with a young child and no options. I was desperate. Today, I am a very different person. I never would have thought it was possible.” Additionally, Casa San Jose in Sarasota gives those living with HIV a proper residence to enhance the quality of their life. The Veteran’s House, also in Sarasota, offers a deserving veteran a roof over his/her head.

Feeding the hungry.

Food Pantries located throughout Southwest Florida distribute thousands of pounds of food every week. Homeless school children are sustained over the weekend through the Weekend Power Pack Food Program in Naples. The Casa Maria Soup Kitchen in Immokalee serves around 35,000 hot meals each year. The nutritional center at Bethesda House in Sarasota assists special needs clients with healthy food items.

Catholic Charities educates children and adults.

At St. Martha’s Early Learning Center in Sarasota, low-income preschoolers become kindergarten ready. The AFCAAM Center in Fort Myers provides after-school tutoring and mentoring for disadvantaged youth. Our Summer Camps offer a fun and educational experience. Families living at Casa San Juan Bosco in Arcadia learn beneficial life skills.

These are some of the children who particpate in the Catholic Charities Day Care at Our Lady of Mercy Parish in Boca Grande.

In addition to all the work previously mentioned, Catholic Charities Diocese of Venice Inc. continues to take a central role in helping many in the Diocese of Venice recover from Hurricane Irma. This initially included the establishment and operation of 12 different Disaster Response Centers which served as central hubs for the distribution of much needed food and water and other necessities. Approximately 82,000 people were helped in just the first three weeks.

In the long-term recovery from Hurricane Irma, Catholic Charities has been at the front lines by providing caseworkers which aid individuals and families in getting back into permanent housing through financial assistance or assisting families who lost work meet the needs of food and other necessities.

“Summertime and the Giving is Easy” is a chance to brighten the future for your neighbors who come to Catholic Charities for help. Any gift amount is greatly appreciated!  You can make your contribution in honor or in memory of a loved one. Donations can be made to a specific program of Catholic Charities or to the general fund where the money will go where it is most urgently needed.

The giving is easy! To donate, please visit www.catholiccharitiesdov.org, or write to Catholic Charities Diocese of Venice Inc., 5824 Bee Ridge Road, PMB 409, Sarasota, FL 34233-5065. Your gift will make a positive impact!

Diocesan Hispanic lay group leaders gather

Staff Report

7/13/2018

Representatives from seven different Hispanic lay movements within the Diocese of Venice met with Bishop Frank J. Dewane on June 23 at Incarnation Parish in Sarasota.

The goal of the meeting was to update the Bishop on the activities of the different groups and to figure out ways to work together and with their local parishes, while always encouraging the faithful to keep a strong connection with Holy Mother Church.

Among the 23 attendees, Bishop Dewane was joined by Father Claudio Stewart, Director of the Hispanic Apostolate, and Father Jiobani Batista, Pastor of St. Margaret Parish in Clewiston and Spiritual Director of Emmaus.

The movements, represented were: Padres y Madres Orantes (Praying Fathers and Mothers); Council of Catholic Women (CCW); Cursillos de Cristiandad (Cursillo); Renovación Carismática (Charismatic Renewal); Marriage Renewal (MDS); Juan XXIII (St. John XXIII); and Emaús (Emmaus).

Representatives of each movement shared with the Bishop aspects of their particular charism and what they do locally to encourage more people to participate. A common theme of the movements is that each has a charism that is deeply spiritual with a stress on evangelization and key elements that include reaching out to those who are unchurched and perhaps marginalized.

Bishop Dewane said these movements serve an important role in the Church and the Parishes in which they exist. While some of the groups focus on individualized evangelization, the Bishop also encouraged them to seek to reach out to others and share their knowledge of the faith.

Praising the lay movement leaders, the Bishop said the Diocese is blessed to have them as they keep the charisms alive through a commitment and faith that is inspiring to others. However, he explained that they have a solemn duty to encourage participation and involvement at all levels, including those who might not be as active in the movement as others. “Reach out to them! Let them see the Spirit alive in you!!”

As movements leaders, they need to do more than organize retreats or larger gatherings for a select few, but to be open to bringing in new people to experience the richness of the Holy Spirit that emanates from each group.

During the meeting, Bishop Dewane also emphasized the need to communicate with parish priests to let them know about the group, their charism and to invite them to become involved.

Father Stewart spoke to the group about organizing events that include each chapter of a respective movement. “We have to remember the way of the Church, is a human service. It is very important to organize an event, but we organize events because of people.”

The meeting also covered the issue of finances and the need to improve Campo San Jose retreat center in Lake Placid.

Spiritual enrichment + fun and games

Staff Report

It was more than fun and games at the St. Michael Parish summer camps for boys and girls in Wauchula. During back-to-back weeks in early June, young boys, and then young girls, converged on the Parish grounds and participated in eight hours of daily spiritual enrichment mixed in with fun and outdoor games.

Each summer, the Parish Religious Education team organizes the camps for the boys (June 4-8) and the girls (June 11-15). The camps are for children from first through sixth grade and offer a chance for the Parish staff to keep connected with the young people when regular religious education programs are closed for the summer.

The children described the week in the simplest of terms: “Fun!” “Awesome!” “Great!” “Perfect!” Beautiful!” “Terrific!” If the smiles and excitement for each day were not enough, the impact of the camp was the lively participation of everyone in each of the activities throughout each week.

The theme for the camps this year was “Obedience!” At daily Mass, Parish Administrator Father Timothy van Zee, Institute of the Incarnate Word, stressed the importance of obedience, trying to explain the concept on a level the young children could clearly understand.

“The best reason is because Jesus gave us that example. We need to be like Jesus if we want to be happy and if we want to get to heaven,” said Father van Zee. “Even when you are asked to do something you don’t want to do; it is better to obey. If you do that, you become a better person, more like Jesus.”

Each camp day had a serious religious and spiritual element, including prayer and an examination of conscience. The early part of the schedule included a talk about the Holy Mass with a presentation covering different aspects of full, active and conscious participation in the Mass. This encompassed the proper way to use a holy water font when entering the Church; the need to genuflect facing the tabernacle and the altar; and a review of the prayers and music.

A key component of the preparation was a daily reinforcement of how to behave when going forward for Holy Communion. For the youngest children, this meant crossing their arms indicating they were not of age to receive the Eucharist and bowing their head to be blessed by Father van Zee. For older children, it was a reminder to respond clearly when the Holy Eucharist is presented to them.

Following Mass, there were additional prayers lead by a religious sister and then they were free to head to a breakfast of pancakes, fruit, milk and juice.

Other parts of the day included some fun and games as well as productive team-building exercises. Small teams competed in the various activities throughout the week with an emphasis on support and teamwork. Points were accumulated for various token prizes.

This was important in helping the young boys and girls realize that they can accomplish much more with the help of others than if they tried to do the same thing alone. Because it is the summer, many of the outdoor activities included water, providing some of the funnier moments of the week.

In the afternoons, different activities included learning about the life of different saints, presentations on the stage in the Parish Hall, and more indoor games. The girls also had the opportunity to bake. Days concluded with snack time, singing and then a recitation of the Holy Rosary. Each week also included a field trip to the Tampa Bay area where they went to indoor amusement facilities.

Each week culminated in a celebration for the parents with presentations from each team. The girls also served fresh baked pizza.

The camps were organized by Sister Maria Gema de Jesus Ruiz, a Servant of the Lord and the Virgin of Matará, Director of Religious Education at St. Michael Parish. However, they would not have been possible without the support of the other religious women at the Parish and the hard work by the entire Parish community, including the parent and teen volunteers. Among those volunteers were several Diocesan seminarians who helped with the boys, and an extra religious sister from Washington, D.C., who assisted with the girls.

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